He looked up with vacant eyes and smiled in her direction.
“Ah, a visitor.”
“I have come at the request of Marta.”
“Sí” He motioned for her to sit down. “You are one of the fighters?”
“Sí. I am Maria, wife of Arvel Walsh.” The old man acted as if this had no meaning to him.
“Come close, my dear.” She sat beside him and he reached out, gently running his hands over her face, touching her koyera. He had smooth, gentle hands. They were completely clean, the cleanest thing Chica had seen that day. “Ah, Tarahumara.” He felt some more. “What a lovely.”
He moved his fingers over her eyes, then her cheeks and lips. “But you do not have the right accent.”
“The Indios gave me the scarf when I moved through their land, Señor. I am Mexicana, and now an Americana.”
“Ah, I see. And the child, she is all right?”
“Sí, she is in El Mundo.”
“Ah, bueno, bueno, Señora.” He had a kind face and looked like a living skeleton. He was all bones barely covered with skin. He had a long white beard but no hair on his head, his moustaches started up his nose and flowed downward to his chin.
Chica liked the old man. She looked around his little half-cave and saw the remains of Marta’s ministrations. She’d stored plenty of food and water for him. He had a little cook stove and plenty of coffee.
“She will live with me, now.”
“Sí, sí.” He was pleased to hear this news. He went back to paging through the book. Chica figured it was just a method of keeping his hands occupied. It made no sense for a blind man to page through a book.
“And she wants you to come with me, so that you will live with me as well.”
“Oh, no Señora, no, no.” He smiled broadly and answered in his gentle, gentlemanly voice. “I am here, this is where I belong.”
She was tired and answered him a little too tersely. Chica was not used to being refused. “Old man, the fort is no more. We are going to make it a pile of rubble and ash. Sombrero del Oro is no more.” The Mule Tamer II, Chica's Ride